CORRECTED-US STOCKS-S&P 500 near flat as healthcare in spotlight

Reuters

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 (Refiles to add dropped word "not" in paragraph 7.)
    * PBMs rise after White House kills rebate rule
    * Biotechs, drugmakers drag on healthcare sector
    * Fed's Powell resumes testimony before Congress
    * Indexes: Dow up 0.7%, S&P 500 up 0.07%, Nasdaq down 0.2%

    By Caroline Valetkevitch
    NEW YORK, July 11 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 was little changed
in afternoon trading on Thursday, with healthcare stocks mixed
after the Trump administration withdrew a rule that would kill
rebates.
    Shares of pharmacy benefit managers gained as the news meant
these companies would continue to benefit from after-market
discounts from drugmakers. Health insurers and drug distributors
also rose.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N24C2KC
    A 5.3% gain in UnitedHealth Group Inc  UNH.N  helped the Dow
break above 27,000 points for the first time. Cigna Corp  CI.N 
surged 9%.
    At the same time, drugmakers such as Merck & Co Inc  MRK.N 
and Pfizer Inc  PFE.N  dropped and the Nasdaq biotech index
 .NBI  fell 1.7%. The healthcare index  .SPXHC  was down 0.3%.
    Helping to support stocks were comments from Federal Reserve
Chairman Jerome Powell, which boosted expectations for an
interest-rate cut.
    Powell, in his first day of testimony before Congress on
Wednesday, confirmed the U.S. economy was still under threat
from disappointing factory activity, tame inflation and a
simmering trade war and said the Fed stood ready to "act as
appropriate." Powell testified before the Senate Banking
Committee on Thursday.
    The S&P 500 rose above the 3,000 level for the first time
Wednesday following the news and hit a high of 3,002.33 on
Thursday, but the index has not been able to hold above that
level.
    "The market has tried several times this week to get through
it and hold; that's been a big wall of psychological
resistance," said Michael James, managing director of equity
trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles. 
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average  .DJI  rose 174.03 points,
or 0.65%, to 27,034.23, the S&P 500  .SPX  gained 1.97 points,
or 0.07%, to 2,995.04 and the Nasdaq Composite  .IXIC  dropped
13.86 points, or 0.17%, to 8,188.67.
    Iron Mountain  IRM.N  slumped after Bank of America Merrill
Lynch downgraded the document storage company's shares to
"underperform," citing recent declines in recycled paper
pricing.
    A Labor Department report showed U.S. underlying consumer
prices rose by the most in nearly 1-1/2 years in June, but that
was unlikely to change expectations the Fed would cut rates this
month.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nLNSBIEF6Y
    Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a
1.19-to-1 ratio.

 (Additional reporting by Medha Singh and Manas Mishra in
Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta, Maju Samuel and Jonathan
Oatis)
 ((caroline.valetkevitch@thomsonreuters.com; +1 646 223 6393;
Reuters Messaging:
caroline.valetkevitch.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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